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Keep the partisan politics out of California's school textbooks

Keep the partisan politics out of California's school textbooks
Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly approved hacking of the U.S. presidential election. Above, Putin at a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Dec. 12, 2016. (Mikhail Klimentyev / Associated Press)

It is outrageous that Russia interfered in the U.S. election by hacking into the computers of Democratic officials. This should be condemned and punished and steps should be taken to protect the integrity of the electoral system.

But one state lawmaker has offered a solution to the problem that is not actually a solution: mandating that this incident be included California's public school history textbooks so that schoolchildren forevermore will learn about it. Given how much we don't know about the hacking — including whether it turned the election and made Donald Trump president — what would be the point?

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And even if the issue did belong in the curriculum, that's not for the Legislature to determine. That decision should be made by education experts charged with crafting intelligent lesson plans — and they shouldn't be under pressure in doing so from Democratic politicians burnishing their anti-Trump bona fides.

The bill at issue — by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) — would urge the state Instructional Quality Commission to include the "Russian interference with the presidential election" in the next revision of the history and social science curriculum. The bill is called — wait for it — the Pravda Act of 2017.

This is becoming a bad habit on the part of the Legislature, one that's getting worse by the year, and it must stop. In recent years, lawmakers have passed — and our normally no-nonsense governor has signed — all manner of bills calling on public school students to be taught about, among other things, the significance of the election of President Obama, sex trafficking prevention, the Armenian and other genocides, and the development of healthy relationships.

All that stuff may sound good. But that's not the point. Whether or not we agree with the premise, it is inappropriate for legislators to interfere with curriculum development and textbooks in an effort to insert partisan, ideological or disputed points of view. That's no less true in liberal California than it is in conservative states that seek to rewrite their textbooks to ignore climate change or, as the Texas Board of Education did in 2004, define marriage as a lifelong union between a man and woman.

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